UNITE staged another successful action outside a 7-Eleven store on Swanston Street in the Melbourne CBD yesterday. The purpose of the protest was to let 7-Eleven customers know about the dodgy employment practices that the convenience store giant is engaged in.
In general people were shocked to hear that most 7-Eleven workers are only paid around $10 per hour and are often forced to do unpaid trial work.
The response UNITE received to our campaign was overwhelmingly positive. This was reflected in the fact that we handed out more than 2000 leaflets and collected more than 200 names on our petition against low pay. We also raised more than $100 dollars in the short time that we were there.
As one young woman said to a UNITE organiser, “you guys are definitely doing more trade than 7-Eleven here today”. Other people who came up to our information stall were appalled to hear that a big company like 7-Eleven was paying people such low wages.
“As if these people can’t afford to pay proper wages” another woman told us. “This is absolutely disgusting, I will never shop at 7-Eleven again” she said as she pushed $10 into our collection tin. The response we received has boosted the confidence of our activists and many were reluctant to leave before hearing about plans for the next action!
Coincidently two 7-Eleven workers from a store in the eastern suburbs also stumbled across the action. These workers were from a store that we had previously not been in touch with. They reported that in their store the workers get paid a flat rate of only $8 per hour!
In other words this 7-Eleven franchise is paying almost 45 per cent below the minimum wage which has recently gone up to $14.31 per hour.
This type of super-exploitation is totally unacceptable. We are calling on 7-Eleven to make a firm commitment to UNITE that they will stop breaking the law.
We are demanding that 7-Eleven sign a ‘Charter of Workplace Rights’ for their staff that was put to them in recent talks. This Charter outlines the minimum wages and conditions that should be afforded to all 7-Eleven workers.
Once this Charter is signed, we then want to sit down and work through the many problems that exist in the franchises. Until this happens more actions will occur on a regular basis.
As we speak another action is being planned for next week. More details will follow soon.